don't believe the
Internet should be regulated, nor for that matter,
do I believe it can be regulated. The First Amendment of US Constitution
gives US citizens the right to free speech, and I believe it would be unconstitutional
for the US Congress to pass a law that would limit this right in anyway.
To me, that would include any restrictions imposed on the Internet.
Besides, the Internet is global, and no one government owns it or is in
control of it.
And the US Supreme Court agrees. When the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was
passed into law with the Telecommunications Bill of 1996, it was challenged almost
immediately. According to Ira Glasser, executive director of the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the CDA "criminalized all sorts of speech that
would never have been criminalized before" (Quittner). The American Civil
Liberties Union defines "freedom of expression" as:
Freedom of speech, of the press, of
association, of assembly and petition--this set of guarantees, protected by the
First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. The Supreme
Court has written that this freedom is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of
nearly every other form of freedom." Without it, other fundamental rights,
like the right to vote, would wither and die (ACLU).
I'm not, nor have I ever been a member
of the ACLU, but it pleases me to know watchdog groups like the ACLU are looking out
for our civil liberties and are keeping the actions on the Hill in check. The US
Constitution prescribes the powers of the three branches of our government, but in its first
Ten Amendments, our Bill of Rights,
the US Constitution prescribes the forth--the power of the People.
When President Clinton penned the CDA into law, it was up to the
people to flex their right and appeal to the courts, specifically the US Supreme Court, that this Act was
unlawful. With the ACLU and American Liberties Association leading the way, the Supreme Court
was swayed by the will of the people and decided, "...while disagreeing about some issues in the
case, unanimously concluded that reducing online communication to a safe-for-kids standard is
unconstitutional. 'The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society,'
wrote Justice John Paul Stevens, 'outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship'"
I do fear, however, the US Congress will make additional
attempts in the future to place some, possibly even justifiable, constraints on the Internet.
I feel this is inevitable, but this sense of duty by the "powers that be" will only destroy the
intended freedom of expression we hold dearly today, especially on the Internet.
There is little doubt in my mind that the Internet conveys
messages its creators could not have conceived or had ever intended, but I think we need to
learn how to take the good with the bad. Every aspect of the Internet is now so intertwined,
I believe the only way to rid the bad would require the removal of the good as well. To me,
I don't believe we can have one without the other.
In the case of the Internet, I don't believe censorship is the
answer either. To me, the Internet is a representation of our own society, of our own
global-self. Everything we believe in and
everything we stand for is entwined in the freedoms found on the Internet. Although we may
not like what a person expresses, we as Americans do not have the right to infringe upon
his or her Constitutional right to do so, as he or she has none upon us. I believe it's just a
matter of following our own moral compass, knowing no one has the right to tell us which way
to go, on or off the Internet.